Church Family and Faith Helps MS Tornado Victim Move Forward


 By Jasmine Haynes

It is possible that some Hattiesburg and Petal residents are struggling for understanding after a recent EF-4 tornado disrupted their lives.   Nevertheless, one victim 
Jeff West, Asury UMC Youth Pastor 
has decided to count his blessings and not dwell on what was lost.  Fortunately, Asbury United Methodist Church youth pastor, Jeff West, was not at home when the tornado nearly disintegrated the house that he and his wife moved in just months before the disaster.  West shared that he was thankful no one was injured and there were no fatalities. "Possessions don't really matter and anytime you worship anything other than Jesus it will let you down," said West. "I'm glad we didn't worship those things because they can be gone literally in 10 seconds, so I just try to focus on what's eternal because that can't be taken away."


Several church members and friends were removing shingles from the house. Those working inside were pulling nails out of studs as  
small wood chips from a blaring saw fell from the roof.  Parker Estes, a high school senior, pitched in to help his pastor with the house for a second time.  "My friends and I helped him move in and paint the house so it is kind of surreal coming in and helping tear everything down," said Estes. 


Church members were not the only helping hands at the Petal   

Brook Goree
Brook Goree, Petal native and volunteer  

home. Brook Goree, a Petal native and Mississippi State University student left Starkville as soon as she could to check on her home town. "I sent some friends who attend Asbury a facebook message and asked how I could help and they bought me here," stated Goree.


West shared that he had nothing but gratitude for his church family, his neighbors and all other volunteers helping with the cleanup. He is waiting for his insurance company to decide if the house is structurally sound or if what's left of the dwelling must be demolished.  No matter the outcome, West said he is not relocating because he loves his neighborhood and feels that God led him and his wife to the house. When asked about the source of his optimism, West referred to Jeremiah 29:11 and responded, "Where God tells us that He knows the plans He has for us,

a lot of people focus on the 'the plans to prosper you' but I just take comfort in the fact that He knows what's going on and He's in control."


At least six United Methodist structures in the Hattiesburg area were damaged in the February 10 tornado. To make a financial gift towards the Mississippi Committee on Relief (MSCOR) send checks to the MS Annual Conference office. Indicate Mississippi Disaster Relief in the memo line. The address is 320-A Briarwood Drive, Jackson, MS 39206.